Thursday, June 2, 2011

Beck Center, emails and race cards

Apparently if you criticize the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, then you’re a bigot.


I guess some people can’t get past race. They forgot to get on that plane. You know, the one that flew (most of) the rest of us into a place called the 21st Century.

I figured it would come to this. I hoped it wouldn’t. But it did.

Last week, Sentinel reporter Rebecca Ferrar wrote a story that said county commission Chairman Mike Hammond will ask his fellow dais mates to consider auditing the Beck Center. Because the organization's accounting just isn’t adding up. That and folks have a heck of a lot of questions about how some county money the center got was spent. Or reported.

Anyhoo, in the story, Rebecca cited an email from Mrs. Terry Caruthers – a library worker who was assigned to the center when it operated under the auspices of the county library system – to the county commission.

Caruthers, who is white, had some fairly damning accusations about the center.

(The story is right smack here. And yeah, I know this is last week’s news, but I’m going somewhere. Hold on a second.)

Rebecca asked Beck Center Executive Director Avon Rollins, who is black, about his thoughts on Caruthers’ claims.

His response? Let’s say it was really classy.

“Blah, blah, blah,” said Rollins. “Ms. Caruthers is non-African American. I don’t know what her ulterior motives are. She might have a bias.”




Apparently Rollins’ ability to understand Caruthers is about as spot-on as the center’s ability to correctly file an IRS 990 tax form.

Cause, er, well, Mr. Caruthers happens to be black.

Here’s Mrs. Caruthers response to Rollins’ remarks in another email she sent to the county commission. (By the way, in the beginning of the email, she wonders how Rebecca got her first email. I gave it to her. And it's public record.)

Anyway, click right smack here for the new email.

And by the way, I have nothing against Rollings. But seriously, the whole race card - or even insinuations of it - is starting to get a little old.


Brian Paone said...

"Apparently Rollins’ ability to understand Caruthers is about as spot-on as the center’s ability to correctly file an IRS 990 tax form."

You're going to be receiving a bill in the mail. It's for a new laptop.

Mine now has Mountain Dew all over it. Well done.

(It IS public record, but still - I bet Terry would've appreciated a headsup.)

Mike Donila said...

Actually, I'm pretty sure she knew we were going to post it. She sent the most recent email to Rebecca and talked to her for the story. I'm not sure if she was actually quoted, though.

Brian Paone said...

Eh. I think it's safe to say you more than made up for it with that one quoted line. If there was anything to make up at all. Which I doubt.

Anyway, let's continue the public emailfest, shall we? Here's an email I sent to both Mayor Burchett and Mr. McKenzie, whom we are unfortunate enough to have as a representative. (But the KV crowd seems to love him. Take it for what it is, I guess.)


From: Brian Paone []
Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2011 11:34 AM
To: Sam McKenzie
Cc: County Mayor
Subject: Do NOT fund Beck Cultural Exchange Center


Please allow this email to serve as notice that neither I nor my wife are interested in seeing the activities of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center or its director, one Avon Rollins, funded any longer with ANY tax dollars under your purview until further notice. We are deeply concerned with both the reluctance of BCC and Rollins in regard to undergoing a fiscal audit, and we are both absolutely infuriated at Rollins' racist
response to pointed criticism of one of the former cataloging specialists assigned to work at the BCC in 2007 - specifically, this passage:


"When the county was paying our custodial bills, we worked with a less expensive person to provide custodial services. The same thing with lawn care. We try to be very frugal with our resources. Ms. Caruthers is non-African American. I don't know what her ulterior motives are. She might have a bias."


Frankly, if the criticism of "non-African Americans" is too distasteful for Rollins to bear maturely and reasonably, then he must not want the money of us "non-African Americans" either. To attack a private citizen so petulantly and ignorantly in this day and age is, I would argue, criminal. It is not an attitude that should be funded with taxpayer dollars, and my wife agrees with me so strongly that she's allowing me
to get back into the political game if necessary to try and stop it.

I hope that's not necessary. I don't enjoy playing politics in this town, and none of the politicos seem to enjoy the way I play either. It's a mess that I hope can be avoided, and with at least one of you I am confident it can be.

Gentlemen, thank you for your time and I hope you enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. I can be reached via email with any questions you might have, but our decision will not change.


Brian and Molly Paone
Knoxville, TN


Burchett didn't respond. He didn't need to. But McKenzie did. I'll post that next.

Brian Paone said...

And McKenzie's reply (which, I have to admit, is FAR more respectful and readable than his response to a much earlier email about TYP 1.0 and his own unfounded attacks on individuals that opposed it successfully, but I still don't understand what he's talking about at the end):


From: Sam McKenzie
To: Brian Paone
Cc: County Mayor
Subject: RE: Do NOT fund Beck Cultural Exchange Center


I realize I can't change your mind but I do think it's short sided not to fund The Beck Center because we may disagree with a statement the Director makes. I disagree with a few of the statements Avon made (non-AA and the need to audit other with an insinuation that it is a black thing) but I will not throw out the baby with the bath water. I also disagree with several of the things Mrs. Caruthers makes as well but I'm not call for her head. Again I feel an audit of the public funds are needed to vindicate Beck at this point. Please take the time to visit the center and look at the things happening. Thanks and take care!


P.S. I spoke with Avon on Sunday and told him I disagreed strongly with his statement. One thing Brian I disagree with you on is the statement that non-whites are funding Beck. We all are funding Beck, the Opra, the Symphony etc. etc. Don't make it "us vs. them" as hopefully we are all seeking a diverse county the embraces all.


If you truly are seeking a "diverse county (that) embraces all", Mr. McKenzie (we will no longer refer to you as a Commissioner in this household - frankly, we were stuck with your ass anyway; we used to be in the Fourth until redistricting and had a DAMNED fine rep that was able to disagree much more civilly and convincingly with dissenting constituents), then here's an excellent step to take:

Don't give any county money to organizations headed by individuals that lash out with racist, off-topic commentary when asked routine questions about non-profit funding they want in down economic years.

Or just keep doing this. Whatever. We're ready for a new rep anyway. Y'know, one that actually visits constituent neighborhoods, one that addresses constituent concerns effectively and maturely, instead of just attending parties and having bloggers write glowing kiss-ass pieces about it in response:

You're a worthless representative, Mr. McKenzie. You have no sense of honor, no sense of integrity, and no sense of true altruistic service to your ENTIRE community.

Prove me wrong. (And don't you DARE ever try to insinuate a dissenting constituent has any kind of undue bias without being able to prove it. Some of us don't back down. At all.)

Brian Paone said...

Dammit, Donila. Your comment filter's maddening. McKenzie's response is in your spam box. If you can't find it, I'll repost.

Brian Paone said...

Or it can be read here:

#87 on the list.

Brian Paone said...

Aww. The Shed didn't like me picking on their boy, apparently. Got banned. But not before spreading the word.

See you kids on the 14th. Let's see if we can go 3-for-3 on charter amendments.

Anonymous said...

Yo, let's Charter Amendment back to 19 Commissioners. This group doesn't return phone calls or respond to emails. And they defer everything. The experiment didn't work and it would be nice to have real Commissioners in the first and second districts. Sammy and Amy don't represent anyone other than themselves.

Brian Paone said...

I don't think giving this group 8 more reinforcements would be a good thing. Not until we limit their power quite a bit, anyway.

What would you (or anyone) think of a charter amendment that requires voter approval of any property tax increases? I keep smelling a forced tax increase here. "OMG WE HAVE TO FUND THIS AND THAT AND DOUBLE OUR DISCRETIONARY SPENDING OMG OMG OMG WE DON'T HAVE A CHOICE TAAAAAAAAAX INCREASE!"

Yeah, f$%^ that. I say we shut 'em down and FORCE 'em all to live within our means for a damned change.

(Do what I do - chat up the at-large commissioners. Can't get any common sense out of Sam, either.)